Coming into this game we knew two things that were certain, the Saints were undefeated and looked unbeatable, and the Cowboys were struggling through yet another December meltdown. So the outcome should be simple, the Saints win and continue a perfect season, right? Well that’s not what Dallas had in mind as they went down to the Superdome and ended the Saints perfect season in New Orleans with the 24-17 victory. The final score doesn’t indicate just how much Dallas dominated this game, they lead 24-3 before Drew Brees tried to lead the Saints on a comeback that ultimately fell a touch down short. This game could provide Dallas with the momentum it needs to get into the playoffs and avoid yet another late-season collapse.
Game MVP: Demarcus Ware (2 sacks, Forced Fumble) – Ware returned to the field one week after spraining his neck and absolutely dominated for the Cowboys, showing exactly why he is one of, if not the most feared defenders in the league. Ware’s relentless pass rush allowed the Cowboys play more aggressively in coverage and completely threw off Brees. Add into that the fact that Ware was able to apply pressure and strip Brees to cause the game-sealing turnover, and we have our first defensive player to win a Game MVP on Tackle Tuesday.
Game LVP: Drew Brees (29-45, 298 yds, 1 INT, 2 Lost Fumbles) – It’s not often you see Brees name in anything but praise, but despite the high yardage yet again, this loss can be attributed to Brees on a number of levels. He looked flustered and out of sync early, and accounted for three turnovers for the normally turnover-free Saints. Although Brees is still having an MVP-type year, this game is one he and the Saints would like to forget.
This was easily one of the most emotional football games we’ve seen in a long, long time. The Bengals were coming into this battle for the 2-seed in the AFC with heavy hearts after the tragic loss of teammate Chris Henry earlier in the week. With players being brought to tears during the pre-game moment of silence it was clear this was going to be a highly emotional game, with plenty at stake on both sides. Once the game started it did not disappoint, with the Bengals jumping out to a 10-7 lead after a long touchdown catch by a very emotional Chad Ochocinco. Before the Chargers were able to take a 14-13 lead into halftime. The second half looked like it was going to be dominated by the Chargers, who scored the first 10 points to jump out to a 24-13 lead. However Cincy was able to comeback and tie it up with just over a minute left before the Phillip Rivers lead the Chargers on a game-winning drive that culminated in a 52-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding to win it and all but seal the 2-seed for San Diego. Regardless of the outcome of this game, our thoughts, prayer and respect go out to the Bengal family in this time of need.
Play of the Week:
In a week full of highlights, including Cleveland Browns return man Joshua Cribbs setting an NFL record for career kick-off returns for touchdowns, one play stood out the most for its importance. With 6 seconds left in the game and the Steelers trailing the Packers 36-30, Ben Roethlisberger dropped back from the 19 and, well you can watch and find out.
Stud of the Week:
Yet another performance we couldn’t overlook from Mr. Roethlisberger. Despite the fact that Browns RB Jerome Harrison ran for a Browns record 286 yards, the third most all-time, we have to give this award to Big Ben because of the importance of his numbers. Harrisons yards came in a meaningless game against a sorry Chiefs team, while Roethlisberger’s came in a do-or-die game against what could be the best secondary in all of football. Big Ben was also clutch, throwing the game winning TD with no time left on the clock as seen above, to keep the Steelers in the playoff hunt. Roethlisberger had the tenth best day all time in terms of passing yardage in NFL history.
NFL Top 5 After Week 15:
1. Indianapolis Colts (14-0): Fourteen down, two to go. With just a couple of weeks left in the regular season the Colts have a chance to become only the second team ever to go 16-0 in the regular season, and the opportunity to be the first team to ever go 19-0. You have to respect this teams resilience, winning games despite looking at fourth-quarter deficits and taking on a persona of their MVP QB Peyton Manning. They are always cool and collected, regardless of the score or the situation, and that has them as one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
2. New Orleans Saints (13-1): Now that the chase for a perfect season is over, the Saints can focus on other things, such as healthy players and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Despite the loss, this Saints team is still having one of the best seasons of all time and look like a heavy favorite in the NFC, especially with the recent struggles of the Vikings. There is no blue-print for how to beat this team, you basically have to play perfect to knock off the Saints, and that is a true sign of greatness.
3. San Diego Chargers (11-3): Another week, another December win for the Super Chargers. San Diego has now won 17 consecutive December games, and 9 consecutive games overall this season after defeating Cincinnati to all but clinch the 2-seed in the AFC and the first-round bye that comes with it. The Chargers are rolling right now and arguably the hottest team in the league. They have no clear weaknesses, with a clutch QB in Rivers, two RBs that can go off come playoff time (just ask the Colts) in Ladanian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, a top-flight receiver in Vincent Jackson, and the best punter/kicker combo in the league in Mike Scifres and Nate Kaeding. This team will be extremely difficult to knock off come playoff time and seems destined for an AFC title game with the Colts.
4. Minnesota Vikings (11-3): What’s going on with the Vikings? After a 10-1 start, Minnesota is 1-2 in their last three games with two embarrassing losses on nationally televised Sunday night games. The team that was favored by many (including the Sports Authority) a couple of weeks ago to win it all, now seems like a team in turmoil who is trying to find out who they really are. The loss to the lowly Panthers highlighted the fact that if you can get pressure on Brett Favre the Vikings are more than beatable, and the tension caused when Coach Brad Childress tried to pull Favre doesn’t help ease the situation. If the Vikings are to live up to their own lofty expectations come playoff time, they need to get their acts together, and quick.
5. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4): Suddenly the Eagles are in play for a first-round bye after another win and yet another Vikings loss. With just two weeks left they may not be able to get it, but they control their own destiny in terms of the NFC East. Having already clinched a playoff spot, the Eagles can now focus on clinching their tough division with wins in the next two weeks. They control their own destiny, which at this stage in the season is something that every team would love to say. Win and the division is theirs, it’s as simple as that.